News You Can Use – Feb 22, 2022


PA Stands Up

New maps are out. What are you going to do about it?

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Lev Hirschhorn here.

There are moments of news that feel uncertain to me – like we could be witnessing a life-changing historical event or simply a bizarre footnote. I remember feeling this way in January and February of 2020 as I started following the news about a strange virus that was shutting down Wuhan. I remember similar moments in previous years: SARS, MERS, Swine Flu – was this just another one of those? I feel the same at this moment. The stand off in Eastern Europe has the potential to become a moment of historic change and realignment and yet it also could fizzle out and fade from memory.

I don’t know what the best source for news and analysis is on the situation. Everything I see feels like it has a bias towards the US military industrial complex or towards Putin’s increasingly fascistic regime. The history of warfare shows us that time and again wars are fought by working class people on behalf of the interests of the wealthy and powerful and I have no doubt that war in Ukraine would be the same.

In Solidarity,

Lev and Ashleigh, Onah, and the PA Stands Up Team

What’s happening in Pennsylvania?

2022 Primary Election
BREAKING: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved new maps for the 17 US Congressional districts for the state of Pennsylvania. The Inquirer’s analysis of the new maps is this: “The Inquirer classifies six of the districts as strongly Republican, five as strongly Democratic, and three each as leaning Democratic and Republican. Four districts in the new map are so closely divided that either party could realistically win them, the same as in the previous version, and a few others could become competitive during wave elections.” The new maps essentially eliminate one safe Republican seat while leaving the number of competitive seats the same. At the same time, Rep Susan Wild’s Lehigh Valley seat has become slightly more Republican making it one of the most competitive seats in the country.

The timeline for the election continues to be muddled. The Supreme Court did announce that petitions will begin on Friday, February 25th and run until March 15th, but only for the US Congress and the Statewide elected offices. The timeline for the State Legislative seats and the Precinct Committee People remains unknown, but further guidance is expected soon from the court. The new petition period timeline for the statewide and federal offices indicates the court’s desire to preserve the May 17th election date. If you want to be a part of the rapid response team to collect petitions, sign up here!

The Penn Capital Star reported on the racial justice component of the new district maps and talked with our friends at Pennsylvania Voice, POWER and the Amistad Law Project.

What’s happening nationally?

Federal Politics
At the federal level, President Biden has begun interviewing candidates to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. While we are thrilled at Biden’s commitment to increasing representation on the Supreme Court, we would also like to see a more aggressive approach to ending the right-wing’s monopoly on power in the judicial branch. The Constitution doesn’t specify that there must be nine Justices on the court, and thus it’s only “tradition” that is making Biden nominate just one replacement for Justice Breyer. There are plenty of terrible people on the courts already, and it’s only becoming known now how much their families do to hold on to power.

For fun
John Oliver reports on the ongoing “controversy” over Critical Race Theory and examines the origins and motivations of CRT’s detractors.

What’s happening globally?

In some more joyous international news, Columbia decriminalized abortion. Earlier decisions of the same kind in Argentina and Mexico reverberated across Latin America, showing that it was possible to legalize abortion in countries with strong Catholic and evangelical Protestant beliefs and a history of patriarchal ideals. This was only possible due to activists on the ground fighting for women’s rights.

It’s an almost immediate clash against the Texas governor’s ruling that trans affirming parents should be reported for child abuse. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of people to elect in order to make sure this doesn’t happen here, but today, just support your trans friends by standing up with them and giving them their roses now.

What’s happening locally?

Housing and Climate Clash
As you may have noticed, we have been wearing snow boots and galoshes in the same week. Climate migration and gentrification will accelerate as we face an accelerating sea level rise, more intense heatwaves, wildfires, and even mega hurricanes, all worsened by a warming planet. Here in PA, we know that our aging housing stock is unable to withstand many of these changes, making it hard to keep houses at livable indoor temps.

In Lancaster, over 160 people who lost their housing are now being housed at hotels. Community members are working to get people meals, but the hotels are cracking down on any donations. Responses like this are only helpful when there’s a sustainable, long term solution in place to keep people housed.

Candidate Visits
Eastern PA was #blessed last week with plenty of pandering. The Democratic and Republican senate candidates found themselves at local community centers and debates all vying for votes. Many are choosing to align themselves with candidates and policies of 2016, while others are working overtime to distinguish themselves from their colleagues. As we work to get movement candidates on the ballot, the crowded senate race gives us plenty of opportunities to decide how we want to operate as co-governors of the commonwealth. To get involved with your local chapter’s endorsement process, become a dues paying member!

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